Like a mixed marriage that spawns beautiful children, Kilo combines myriad culinary cultures to create something refreshing and different. Words: Sarah Douglas. Photos: Lucky 8.
COCOONED behind an industrial cement wall, Kilo is a mystery that deserves to be solved. Despite the fact that it is around the corner and will soon celebrate its first anniversary, I had missed the allure and escaped the buzz. The menu left me confused, the façade giving little away. Where are these guys going with this? Finally, I think I’ve got it, helped along by a few of the finest cocktails I’ve had anywhere.
Host Alejandro brings a lot of Spanish charm to his role, and he is a great entertainer, flitting from table to table, supplying much needed explanations of the dishes. The menu doesn’t tell the whole story.
What was set for our dinner was adventurous, sexy and beautifully balanced on the tightrope of culinary fusion. Often a disaster, this one is cleverly conceived. Latino meets Asian in surprisingly successful dishes that float from sushi with a tickle to cocktails laced with herbs and spices and a range of dishes with Asian sensibility and Latino-inspiration, dishes that dance with Italian mamas dressed in Korean dresses wearing Japanese scents . . . it’s out there but it works.
Highlights of the menu include Seafood Ceviche with tuna, salmon, and octopus; Beef Tongue Tacos with an apple miso slaw, roasted jalapeño, and garlic butter; Spicy Duck & Pomelo Salad with nam yam, green mango, and duck skin; and Chicken Bulgogi with pickled shiitakes, tempura flakes, and horseradish mayo . . . and like me, you are none the wiser, right?
Our dinner began with a cocktail. A home-made vanilla-infused vodka brought a little lime and lemon to the table as a sushi dish arrived, dressed with a yuzu dressing, topped with tempura flakes, filled with fresh crab meat, with a raw snapper fillet sunbathing on top. Texture, flavours and fresh seafood loved the tangy dressing and the crunch of tempura. This one was a winner.
The next dish had me a little confused. It was billed as a side dish on the menu and featured that strange mini corn. It was chargrilled, flavoured with chipotle, dragged through black and white sesame seeds and spiced up with a chili aioli, We started eating it and it was hard to stop, vegetarians look out, you might love this.
Next course was black and white ravioli; one side of the prawn-filled pasta wrapped in white pasta, the other side dyed an inky black with squid. Floating in a tangy foam sauce with deep fried prawn heads adding crunch to the flavourful pasta, it was big on personality yet kept it nicely in check.
Another cocktail arrived, gin this time, shaken martini-style with fresh thyme and egg white, it slipped down like nobody’s business. They all have crazy names, a bit like the chef, who looks like an Indonesian biker, speaks with a vaguely American accent and grew up in Singapore. This is where he was introduced to Kilo, a Singapore-based business opened by a Puerto Rican and his American/Puerto Rican partner.
Kilo has three venues in Singapore: a lounge, a restaurant and a raw bar. These guys are all over the place on paper but the Bali restaurant delivers a creative and different experience that is well worth a try.
The seafood theme continued with squid ink rice dressed with crispy calamari, a kind of a hybrid of seafood fried rice with Italian pretensions. It wasn’t our favourite but that doesn’t take away from the skill required to create it, or the lusciousness of it. The kick came from yet another cocktail. This one was tequila-based (not hard to see how they won us over!), spiked with chipotle, blended with tamarind juice. The spicy cocktail gave the dish a real kick. Not normally favouring liquor with my dinner, I actually fell a little in love with this one.
I love a good dessert and from the small menu of three, the last one I would have chosen was a thing advertised as a pistachio cake with pineapple. I would have been wrong. It was knockout; a delicate pistachio sponge with pineapple and a peanut butter caramel, all warm and gooey and the perfect happy ending.
Don’t try and figure out Kilo, it almost defies description. Suffice to say this compact, modern space fills out the cement and glass walls with a surprising and successful menu of balanced flavours, excellent cocktails and very warm, friendly people.
Not once did they stumble or fall, which is no mean feat considering how easily it could all go terribly wrong. A few surprises are in store with this one, definitely worth checking it out.